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Ava These Days

It’s still all about language.  Ava chatters and I can understand maybe 70% now.


Here are some little snippets.

  • Ava is very concerned about water, rain, and puddles.  She also knows that umbrellas are associated with rain.  When she sees patio umbrellas, she points at them and says rain.  She goes through all her possessives about daddy’s boots, mommy’s boots, and baby’s boots (“bee-bee boots”).
  • She can learn new words very quickly.  She’ll say “What’s that?” about six times and then she’ll start repeating your answer.  This is how she learned the word poop when she was inspecting bird poop.
  • She’s learning to put her words together in interesting ways.  She wants to tell me that the cat was digging a hole and she said “Hole kitty doing.”  I think that’s really amazing.


  • Ava has started to refuse to change her clothing.  I used to be able to change her pants by changing her diaper and switching out pants at the same time.  But the other day she refused to let me put pants back on her.  But!  After an hour she said “pants.”  I showed her two pairs of pants, she chose one, and she let me put them on her.  But I’m only able to change her shirt by giving her a bath, hiding the dirty shirt, and putting a new shirt on her.  I’m hoping this phase ends soon.

I spent most of my life intimidated by dough.  I tried my first pie about six months ago and it came out perfect.  Then my dough started being awful.  It wouldn’t mix together to make a dough.  Instead it would crumble when I tried to form it.  If I added more water, it would get too sticky and it would never role out properly.


I tried every variation of temperature, changing the water, changing how cold the butter was, using recipes with different amounts of butter, etc.  I finally found that the trick is to use nice butter with a Smitten Kitchen recipe modified to replace lard with butter since we’re vegetarians.  KellyGold Butter from Trader Joe’s is the best.  I think I’ve also finally mastered my lattice techniques.



3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
17 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
10 tablespoons ice water

1. Mix flour, salt and sugar with a whisk until combined. Use your hands to combine the butter until it forms little pea-sized granules.

2. Sprinkle 8 tablespoons ice water over mixture. With blade of rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix. Press down on dough with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together, adding up to 2 tablespoons more ice water if it will not come together. Divide dough into two pieces, one slightly larger than the other. (If possible, weigh pieces. They should register 16 ounces and 14 ounces.) Flatten larger piece into a rough 5-inch square and smaller piece into a 4-inch disk; (If for a non-lattice, double crust pie, these pieces should be even in weight and both round) wrap separately in plastic and refrigerator at least 1 hour or up to 2 days before rolling.

Filling and Pie

1 1/2 pounds Granny Smith apples (about 3 medium)
2 pounds McIntosh apples (about 4 large)
1 tablespoon juice and 1 teaspoon zest from 1 lemon
3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 egg white, beaten lightly

1. Roll dough on lightly floured work surface or between two large sheets of plastic wrap to 12-inch disk. Transfer dough to pie plate by rolling dough around rolling pin and unrolling over 9 1/2-inch pie plate or by folding dough in quarters, then placing dough point in center of pie plate and unfolding. Working around circumference of pie plate, ease dough into pan corners by gently lifting dough edges with one hand while pressing around pan bottom with other hand. Leave dough that overhangs lip of plate in place; refrigerate dough-lined pie plate.

2. Peel apples and cut without hitting the core on four sides.  Cut quarters into 1/4-inch slices and toss with lemon juice and zest. In a medium bowl, mix 3/4 cup sugar, flour, salt and spices. Toss dry ingredients with apples. Turn fruit mixture, including juices, into chilled pie shell and mound slightly in center.

3. Set oven to 425°F.  To make a lattice-top pie, cut the pie dough into strips anywhere from 1/2 to 1-inch wide with a knife. Arrange every other strip across your pie filling in one direction, spacing the strips evenly. Fold back every other strip gently on itself and add the longest remaining strip in the other direction (diagram here). Fold the strips back down, repeat with the other strips until a full lattice-top is formed. Trim the lattice’s overhang to the diameter of the pie dish’s rim (i.e. no overhang; only the bottom crust will have that). Gently fold the rim of the bottom crust over the lattice strips.  Use a pastry brush to apply the egg white.

4. Place pie on baking sheet. Bake until top crust is golden, about 25 minutes. Rotate pie and reduce oven temperature to 375°F; continue baking until juices bubble and crust is deep golden brown, 30-35 minutes longer.

5. Transfer pie to wire rack; cool to room temperature, at least 4 hours.

Ava is 23 Months Old

Ava is practically a two-year old!


Independence/Motor Skills

Ava is very independent.  She’s been obsessed with jumping in muddy puddles.  She knows exactly where they are in the neighborhood and if they’re present, you have to force her to leave them kicking and screaming.  It used to be that we could say “bye bye Ava” and walk away and she would follow.  But now you get the impression you could be gone for an hour and she wouldn’t notice.

Ava is very obsessed with order.  We went to Portland for the weekend.  On the way back from Portland she spent 40 minutes organizing placards in the seat in front of us.  At home she can spend an hour organizing her magnets or lining up her animals.


She’s fairly fearless.  It takes a lot to make her hesitant.  She had no problems with this giant slide, which is funny because the first thing I said when we got to the park was “She cannot go up that slide.”


Ava is so serious these days.  She does not want you to tease her when she’s working on her projects.  It’s getting harder and harder to take pictures where she’s smiling.  She has her goofy phases, but when Ava is still she’s usually making her serious face.

Foods and Liquids

If Ava likes something she will eat all of it.  In Portland Ava ate her weight in shrimp and Mexican food.  She’s also obsessed with eating ice.  She asks for it every day.




Ava is still spending more time in her bed.  Last night she lasted until 2:40 a.m., although since we flew in from Portland she didn’t go down until 11:30.  This weekend we’re going to try giving her a twin bed in her room that I will initially sleep in with her and then I’ll slowly try to escape from her room after she falls asleep.  Jon already bought her a Peppa Pig comforter to make it an extra exciting bed.


On our last day in Portland we rented a car so we could explore the city and give Ava a place to nap.  She napped for an hour and we went to a restaurant for an early dinner.  Ava was apparently not done napping because inside the restaurant, with loud metal music playing, Ava fell back asleep for AN HOUR.  When she sleeps she likes to have one of her hands stuffed inside my shirt.  And that is how we got the picture below:



Language Skills

It was good timing for us to spend three days with Ava because we were able to observe an evolution in her language.

  • Ava has been describing things as sad lately, like “Daddy sad.”  Yesterday Ava put several concepts together and referred to herself as sad by saying “Baby is sad.”  She was upset that Jon was talking to the Uber driver instead of her.
  • We’re having more back and forth conversations with Ava.  She will say “outside” and we’ll say something like “outside after dinner” and she understands.
  • She says a new verb every day.  Today she told me to catch something and to hold something else.



I have no experience with kids so I find the evolution of language to be interesting.  First Ava made animal noises.  Then she started saying the words of the animals.  Next she started organizing her nouns.  The other day before we went out she said “boots, jacket, hat, gloves.”

Ava is finally okay with wearing winter clothing.  She actual requests her hat and gloves and complains that it’s “cold.”  If her hands are ungloved for long enough she’ll say that they “hurt.”  Also if she’s wearing a hat you have to pair it with the gloves.  These things go together.  Similarly, if Jon is wearing a hat, Ava also has to be wearing a hat.


I can also learn a lot about Ava’s vocabulary when we leave a place because she says goodbye to all the objects.  For example, when we leave parks she says “bye-bye tree, bye-bye car, bye-bye road.”  She’s also working on possessives.  Ava talks a lot about “daddy’s boots.”

Mommy’s food is always better than the same item in Ava’s bowl


Now Ava is working on verbs.  She says “I go” and “bird going.”  When I read books to her at night she repeats the verbs in the book.  When Jon went to work on Saturday Ava said “Dada going, bye bye daddy.”  Tonight she repeated “sit” after I read about three bears sitting on chairs from Goodnight Moon.  The other day she was giving Teddy his food and she kept saying “I throw.”

Ava likes raw beets.


Ava’s always had a lot of chatter, but now I can understand at least a third of it.


Part of the reason that we moved about 1.5 years ago is that our old street had no sense of community and the new neighborhood does.  Case in point, every year one of our neighbors throws an Easter egg hunt.  Everyone brings food and each family contributes 15 eggs that this neighbor aggregates and hides in the neighborhood.

She’s always making Jon’s expressions.


Last year Ava wasn’t even walking so we skipped the hunt and just socialized.  This year was Ava’s first Easter egg hunt and she was a pro!  We didn’t even have to explain anything to her, she went right to the eggs and put them in her basket.


The only hard part was getting her to wait to grab the eggs before the hunt began because she could see all of them and kept saying “Egg!  Egg!”

On the hunt.


Some crafty people contributed eggs that were real eggs dyed colors, filled with paper, and sealed.  They were very neat but they made quite the mess.  The street has a lot of tiny pieces of paper now.


Ava Is Possessive

Ava’s language took a shift: she has started using “I.”  A few days ago, referring to the slide, she said “I go.”  She’s been using it pretty consistently ever since.


She’s also becoming incredibly possessive.  She’s started saying “mine,” even about things that aren’t hers.  We went to IKEA and she was claiming that beds and sofas were hers.  If Jon and I tried to sit on them she would have a tantrum.  Tonight she woke up saying “mine.”  She had a playdate last Friday, though, with two different kids and she let the kids play with her toys.  The only time she got upset is when her nanny was holding a six month old baby and Ava got jealous.


Since Ava has shown some interest in jewelry, we bought her some frilly dresses.  She loves them!  She asks to wear them in the morning and she cries at night when I take them off.


When Ava sees an object in a television show or a book that is the same as an object she has, Ava gets very upset.  She wants the object.  There are books I read to her at night where I know she has to be holding her teddy bear to get through the books without crying.  Ava also reacts strongly to the meaning of music.  I’m not into classical music so I couldn’t tell you what emotion different pieces are trying to evoke, but Ava consistently understands the emotions.  She gets sad when the music is sad; spirited when the music is happy.

When you combine all this in the movie “Up,” the movie is hard for Ava to take.  That movie is very sad in the beginning and Ava was so agitated.  She was also very sick this week, hence the red nose.  The picture below is Ava in her most extreme state of concern.


Ava finally got better this weekend.  We took her for a walk after dinner today and she was being hilarious.  She would run down this little hill, run back up it, and start walking backwards down the hill saying “oh no” as if she had no control over being forced down the hill.  It was so funny, I couldn’t stop laughing.  Ava has a wonderfully goofy personality.

Ava is 22 Months Old

I believe this is the first time I’ve ever published Ava’s monthly summary a day after the monthly anniversary occurred.  Clearly I’ve become a negligent mother.


Independence/Motor Skills

Ava is getting really good at letting me do household chores in the morning and before dinner.  She’s been playing more with her kitchen, pretending to prepare and wash her own food.  She often requests fish crackers or ice and uses it to prepare her meals.  I can’t wait for her to be ready to make real food so we can make meals together.  Kids are more willing to try new foods if they helped prepare the meals.


Foods and Liquids

Ava is getting a little more adventurous with her food.  She always gets at least a little bit of what we’re eating and I have at least a couple of meals per week that she will like.  It’s always something that Jon likes too, like scrambled eggs and grits.  She worried me last week because initially she didn’t like pasta shells stuffed with ricotta, but after a few bites she liked it better than spaghetti!  She really likes ice, which is weird.  She has a little bowl and she’ll bring it to me and say “Ice.”  I fill the bowl with crushed ice from the fridge and give it to Ava.  She says “Tank ooo” (for thank you).  When we’re in the grocery store, the best thing you can give Ava to eat is a bell pepper.  She loves them and the cashiers get confused as to why I want to buy a pepper with chunks taken out.



Ava is spending a little more time sleeping in her bed.  Last week, she even stayed there until 1:20 a.m.  I talk to her at night about how she would be more comfortable staying in her own bed and that big girls sleep in their own beds.  Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t.


Language Skills

Ava has gone from knowing a few words to a low stream of chatter.

  • Ava is really obsessed with hats lately.  If she sees a hat in the room, she wants to wear it.  If she sees a hat on television, she says in her most pitiful voice “haaat.”
  • Ava’s first three-syllable word is dinosaur.  She frequently says “Dinosaur, rawr!” like George in Peppa Pig.
  • Ava might know more names of different birds than any other toddler.  She knows owl, macaw, rooster, duck, and turkey.
  • She says “Here ya go,” “There it is,” “There they are,” “Oh, wow!”
  • Ava knows a lot of nursery rhymes.  She’s frequently singing “Ashes, ashes, we all fall down!” “Wee wee wee” from This Little Piggy and the tune to Old MacDonald.  She also knows many of the songs from Peppa Pig.

Ava Stories

Ava has been experimenting with getting sympathy.  She runs around like crazy, falling and banging into things.  She’ll cry and say “hurts” while showing you the body part that pains her.  You can make it better with a kiss.  But she’ll also claim that things hurt when she didn’t actually fall hard or even fall at all.  She’s developing a general whine, almost a whinny like a horse, to express her general displeasure at a situation.  Ava uses the term “hot” to refer to food that’s too warm but also food that’s too spicy, which is very smart.

“Dinosaur, rawr!”


Ava has been sleeping in her own bed for on average four hours instead of one.  We realized it’s not because she’s more interested in sleeping in her own bed.  It’s because she has been taking more and more stuffed animals to bed with her and she probably things that the stuffed animals are me when she rolls around.

These three bunnies are each very different.


It’s been getting into the 50’s and even 60’s lately.  Thank you global warming!  Winters are so hard when you have a toddler.  I’m already planning what I’m going to do with the garden.  Now that Ava is older it’s easier to work outside because I don’t have to watch her every second.  She winds up eating a little dirt, but minerals are healthy, right?

In the afternoon light comes through a window with a mosaic pattern that makes rainbows on the walls.  Ava is really into the rainbows.


It used to be that when Ava played with other babies they would play next to each other and sometimes take toys from each other.  Now Ava has a strong sense of property ownership and you cannot take things from her.  She says “Nooooo!!!!”  We went to the fancy playground two weekends (so named because they actually replace the sand in the sandbox and it doesn’t smell like cat piss the way the one down the street does) and she got into two disagreements.  For the first disagreement, a little boy wanted to keep all the toys for himself.  He hoarded four trucks and wouldn’t let Ava have a single one, which she did not like.  For the second disagreement, she didn’t want to share playing on a big toy with a little boy.  I explained to her the concept of sharing, but she wasn’t into it.  Hopefully she’ll learn and she won’t be like this one three year old we know that spits on you instead of sharing.

We went to a birthday party last weekend for a one-year old.  We stayed for 1.5 hours.  I enjoyed when Ava wanted to play with the kids around her age and younger in the play area.  But eventually she got bored and wanted to play outside with the big kids.  Unfortunately the big kids were all boys from seven and up and they were good at not running into Ava, but they were still rowdy.  It was all guns and rockets and I didn’t like the stress of chasing Ava to make sure that she didn’t get hurt.  But I count the party as a success.


In Hawaii there was a little cove near the house we rented that is a known spot for seeing turtles.  The turtles were fairly shy, but there were two Black-crowned Night Herons that gave lovely displays.  Here is the adult:


The juvenile was even closer to us.  I find it interesting that the juvenile has that green band by his eyes, but the adult doesn’t.  Jon said it looks like the juvenile is part of an 80’s glam band.


To put these shots in perspective, I was using my 250 mm lens.  The juvenile was so close to us!  But he ignored us because he was looking for food.


He gave us some nice fuzzy butt shots.


It took awhile to even find the turtles because they were so camouflaged with the rocks.


There were many turtles swimming in the water that would come up for air.  It happened so quickly I couldn’t get good shots of them, despite spending about 30 minutes with my camera hovering over the water.



Ava Happenings

Ava probably says 100 words now.  I love the sentences she’s been putting together.  We have the Worf figure up around the house and yesterday Ava said “Look, there’s Worf!”  At Ava’s bedtime I picked her up and told her to say goodnight to Jon.  She said “night night dadda” while she waved.  If you ask her about any animal in a book she’ll point to it and sometimes say “There it is.”  Everytime something falls or Ava perceives something to be going wrong, she says “Uh oh!”  Ava requests her favorite TV show, Peppa Pig, by saying “tv” and snorting like a pig.  We went to the Utah Natural History Museum a few weeks ago and there was a gecko exhibit that Ava LOVED.  Each time she spotted a gecko in one of the exhibits, she’d say “Oh, it’s a gecko!”

Did I mention that she’s stunning?


Ava has a goofy personality.  She still loves to offer you a piece of food only to pull it away if you move towards it.  She’s still a kitty cat and meows throughout the day.  In fact, when she wakes up at night she also meows.  She’s embracing the role and has started to lick my face.


Now that it’s getting warmer outside Ava is living outdoors.  She gets grumpy when she’s inside, but when you take her outside she laughs and laughs.

Why are we inside when it’s clearly sunny out there?




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